Archive for the ‘Watercress Darter’ Category

>Oops. I mean, Big Oops!

September 23, 2008

>Why people should be knowledgeable about their surroundings

You wake up, get dressed, go to work everyday at Roebuck – Hawkins Park, where you are director of the park center. You decide to have a nearby pond drained because the tennis courts have flooded and you blame the pond. City workers come and remove the dam, draining the pond.

Oops.

How can you be park director and not know that the pond is home to the Watercress Darter, a federally protected species of fish that has been in the news several times in the last year? Especially since there are signs posted nearby. “It never crossed my mind” to consult federal authorities before having the pond drained, director Regina Nummy said.

Biologists are collecting the fish, over a thousand stinky dead fish, in part because the penalty for wounding or injuring an endangered species can be fines of thousands of dollars per animal.

Story here.

Thankfully, the fish still lives in Bessemer at the Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge. This makes our pond even more important in the survival of the darter. I certainly hope that Birmingham does not have a say in the future of the pond at Roebuck Springs. Hopefully Federal authorities will order the dam to be rebuilt, and the pond re-populated. Maybe they can incorporate flood control into the design.

I have written about this colorful fish before, but I notice my old links no longer work. There is a new web site, Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge for the refuge in Bessemer. Come visit.

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>Western Tribune and Watercress Darter (Again)

June 10, 2007

>I have learned something new. Now when you click on a link in my posts, it will open in a new window. If I can figure out how to change the blogger list to do this, I will, and it should make it easier to navigate around. This is only true for post starting today…I’m not going to go back and change the html on all the old posts. Sorry.

I was reminded that I failed to post my Western Tribune column this week on Wednesday, as I have been doing, so here it is:

Recently the City of Bessemer settled a lawsuit with the Federal government which was brought against the city for non-compliance with the ADA (American with Disabilities Act). This act, signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, among other things requires public buildings to provide access to those with disabilities. A resident of Bessemer was denied access to City facilities because of her disability.

My first question is this: why did it take 17 years and a federal lawsuit before Bessemer took notice that it was out of compliance with this law? Quitman Mitchell was mayor, and for the next twelve years he was unaware, indifferent to or willfully negligent in not adhering to the standards outlined. The passage of the act was big news at the time; I don’t see how the mayor could have been unaware of it. For the last five years Ed May has been mayor and still nothing has been done to bring the city in to compliance.

The city has three years to remedy the situation downtown, things like curbs and sidewalks and ramps. The Bessemer Civic Center will have seven long years to make changes in access to the stage. There is my second question: why do we have to wait seven years before our citizens with disabilities are allowed to access all of the civic center facilities? Surely an acceptable design and necessary repairs can be finished in a much shorter time.

This is really an embarrassment for our city. If a city can not provide equal access to facilities and services for the disadvantaged in the city, how do we know that the city is looking out for any of us?

Schools are public buildings and are subject to ADA regulations as well, and I wonder if Bessemer’s schools may be out of compliance also. Do disabled students have full access to all of the facilities? While Bessemer school officials are thinking about compliance with the ADA, they should consider this IDEA. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), enacted in 1975 and amended most recently in 2004, was enacted to assure that children with disabilities have every opportunity to receive a free quality public education that other children do. Are our schools compliant in this area as well, providing the teachers, resources and support to provide what is required for every student?

This might be a good time for our Board of Education officials and principles to review the current ADA and IDEA regulations and make sure we are compliant with all of them. Let’s not wait until another costly lawsuit arises, or until a caretaker of a disabled person has to file a complaint.

********************************************************************

Remember our friend the Watercress Darter that I brought to your attention months ago. Today Pat Byington has an editorial in the Birmingham News about the history and the importance of this little fish. Read it here: We must preserve God’s vibrant tapestry in this state As Pat brings out in his piece, Alabama certainly has a huge amount of bio-diversity, and we do have a responsibility to protect it. I especially liked his quote of the discoverer of this rare colorful fish in describing his find, “A visual treat that does something to the spirit – like a beautiful sunset.”

But its not just about the Watercress Darter, and Pat understands this. It’s about the world we live in and climate change and sustainable energy and noise pollution and smoke free public buildings and more

Then go visit the Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge here in Bessemer.

Western Tribune and Watercress Darter (Again)

June 10, 2007

I have learned something new. Now when you click on a link in my posts, it will open in a new window. If I can figure out how to change the blogger list to do this, I will, and it should make it easier to navigate around. This is only true for post starting today…I’m not going to go back and change the html on all the old posts. Sorry.

I was reminded that I failed to post my Western Tribune column this week on Wednesday, as I have been doing, so here it is:

Recently the City of Bessemer settled a lawsuit with the Federal government which was brought against the city for non-compliance with the ADA (American with Disabilities Act). This act, signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, among other things requires public buildings to provide access to those with disabilities. A resident of Bessemer was denied access to City facilities because of her disability.

My first question is this: why did it take 17 years and a federal lawsuit before Bessemer took notice that it was out of compliance with this law? Quitman Mitchell was mayor, and for the next twelve years he was unaware, indifferent to or willfully negligent in not adhering to the standards outlined. The passage of the act was big news at the time; I don’t see how the mayor could have been unaware of it. For the last five years Ed May has been mayor and still nothing has been done to bring the city in to compliance.

The city has three years to remedy the situation downtown, things like curbs and sidewalks and ramps. The Bessemer Civic Center will have seven long years to make changes in access to the stage. There is my second question: why do we have to wait seven years before our citizens with disabilities are allowed to access all of the civic center facilities? Surely an acceptable design and necessary repairs can be finished in a much shorter time.

This is really an embarrassment for our city. If a city can not provide equal access to facilities and services for the disadvantaged in the city, how do we know that the city is looking out for any of us?

Schools are public buildings and are subject to ADA regulations as well, and I wonder if Bessemer’s schools may be out of compliance also. Do disabled students have full access to all of the facilities? While Bessemer school officials are thinking about compliance with the ADA, they should consider this IDEA. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), enacted in 1975 and amended most recently in 2004, was enacted to assure that children with disabilities have every opportunity to receive a free quality public education that other children do. Are our schools compliant in this area as well, providing the teachers, resources and support to provide what is required for every student?

This might be a good time for our Board of Education officials and principles to review the current ADA and IDEA regulations and make sure we are compliant with all of them. Let’s not wait until another costly lawsuit arises, or until a caretaker of a disabled person has to file a complaint.

********************************************************************

Remember our friend the Watercress Darter that I brought to your attention months ago. Today Pat Byington has an editorial in the Birmingham News about the history and the importance of this little fish. Read it here: We must preserve God’s vibrant tapestry in this state As Pat brings out in his piece, Alabama certainly has a huge amount of bio-diversity, and we do have a responsibility to protect it. I especially liked his quote of the discoverer of this rare colorful fish in describing his find, “A visual treat that does something to the spirit – like a beautiful sunset.”

But its not just about the Watercress Darter, and Pat understands this. It’s about the world we live in and climate change and sustainable energy and noise pollution and smoke free public buildings and more

Then go visit the Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge here in Bessemer.

>Bessemer: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

March 8, 2007

>Today I am just going to write about some issues here in Bessemer. I might start doing this on Thursdays each week, because both The Western Star and The Birmingham News West News arrive on Wednesdays. Before I forget, be sure and read the comment left on yesterday’s post (No News) by Jennifer, who is voicing her concern about go-carts on the streets. I live in the area she is referring to, and I have seen them too. One guy a couple of days ago was (actually) stopping at a stop sign and was using his foot on the asphalt to stop his vehicle. Didn’t the Flintstones do this? For their own safety, even if they are going to continue to break the law, they should put those flags on the go-carts so people in vehicles might see it out of the corner of their eye.

Here is the good. Being a student of science (again…literally) I was excited to read in both papers about the return of the science fair to Jess Lanier High School. My hat is off to anatomy and physiology teacher Harriet Westbrook who reintroduced the program. I remember two science projects in particular that I did in public school. One was a volcano made of different colors of modeling clay, representing the different layers of the earths crust. Part of it was cut away to show the layers. Also, we had a substance (I can’t remember what it was) that I could put down in the crater of the volcano and light, and it would smoke and spew and make a little lava flow. This was a long time ago, and probably you couldn’t get away with that now (using open flame and explosives), and probably I released toxins into the atmosphere of the lunchroom/auditorium that might still be affecting me now, but it was fun. I won’t bore you with the other project. 1000 Science Projects from A to Z was the book that I got a lot of ideas from when I was a kid. I wish I still had that book.

Congratulations to third place winner Trenton Hearns (9th Grade) whose project compared modern digital music players to older record players, second place finisher Shemarkus Johnson (10th Grade) who analyzed the microbes that live on our hands, and first place winner Rickey Brown (10th Grade) whose project explored water purification.

Included in science is biology and a part of the study of life is ornithology. A recent article in the Birmingham News brought to my attention conservation efforts that have made a city park in Roebuck a birdwatcher’s haven. The Great Backyard Bird Count was recently completed, and there are bird watchers here in Bessemer too. Twelve counters reported 30 species of birds and 1228 total birds. Of course this is just a small sample of the actual number of birds around, but it gives an idea of what we might see. View Bessemer’s bird counts here: http://gbbc.birdsource.org/gbbcApps/report?cmd=showReport&reportName=CitySummary&city=Bessemer&state=US-AL&year=2007

Another thing we have in Bessemer is a National Wildlife Refuge. Did you know? The Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge is just off Eastern Valley Road, and was created in 1980 and contains a pond known as Thomas Spring which is vital to the survival of the endangered Watercress Darter. The 23 acre refuge is managed by the Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge in Anniston. The web site is http://www.fws.gov/southeast/watercressdarter/index.html and here is the Watercress Darter.

The refuge is next to the McAdory house. There are no informational signs up yet, but there are improved paths for hiking and bird watching. Email me for directions.

By the way, the web site has not been updated and says the Refuge is managed by Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.

Now for bad. This building is one block from my house. It has been abandoned for years, and why the thunderstorms and strong winds don’t finish it off I don’t know. The building was pictured on the front of The Western Star months ago, to try to draw attention, but I guess the right people have not seen it. Maybe they will see this picture.

Can we not just all get on one side and blow real hard?

One more thing. In case you don’t know, the Galleria Mall now has online shopping for its stores. The site is http://www.riverchasegalleria.com/html/index12.asp, and from there you can type in a product, for instance “Clark shoes”, and find where they are sold, and in some cases what styles are available and can reserve them. Type in “Weather Radio” (which we all should have) and several options come up. Also is a listing of “Hot Stores” and information for “mall walkers” and various other things. Explore, shop, spend!

And this is the Ugly. I will close with a quote from The Western Star of March 7, 2007. In an editorial, owner Bob Tribble says, “And we as newspaper folks must protect the rights of those with whom we disagree as well as those whom we agree” (Jefferson Was Definitely A “Visionary”). If only the editor, Dale Jones, agreed.

Bessemer: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

March 8, 2007

Today I am just going to write about some issues here in Bessemer. I might start doing this on Thursdays each week, because both The Western Star and The Birmingham News West News arrive on Wednesdays. Before I forget, be sure and read the comment left on yesterday’s post (No News) by Jennifer, who is voicing her concern about go-carts on the streets. I live in the area she is referring to, and I have seen them too. One guy a couple of days ago was (actually) stopping at a stop sign and was using his foot on the asphalt to stop his vehicle. Didn’t the Flintstones do this? For their own safety, even if they are going to continue to break the law, they should put those flags on the go-carts so people in vehicles might see it out of the corner of their eye.

Here is the good. Being a student of science (again…literally) I was excited to read in both papers about the return of the science fair to Jess Lanier High School. My hat is off to anatomy and physiology teacher Harriet Westbrook who reintroduced the program. I remember two science projects in particular that I did in public school. One was a volcano made of different colors of modeling clay, representing the different layers of the earths crust. Part of it was cut away to show the layers. Also, we had a substance (I can’t remember what it was) that I could put down in the crater of the volcano and light, and it would smoke and spew and make a little lava flow. This was a long time ago, and probably you couldn’t get away with that now (using open flame and explosives), and probably I released toxins into the atmosphere of the lunchroom/auditorium that might still be affecting me now, but it was fun. I won’t bore you with the other project. 1000 Science Projects from A to Z was the book that I got a lot of ideas from when I was a kid. I wish I still had that book.

Congratulations to third place winner Trenton Hearns (9th Grade) whose project compared modern digital music players to older record players, second place finisher Shemarkus Johnson (10th Grade) who analyzed the microbes that live on our hands, and first place winner Rickey Brown (10th Grade) whose project explored water purification.

Included in science is biology and a part of the study of life is ornithology. A recent article in the Birmingham News brought to my attention conservation efforts that have made a city park in Roebuck a birdwatcher’s haven. The Great Backyard Bird Count was recently completed, and there are bird watchers here in Bessemer too. Twelve counters reported 30 species of birds and 1228 total birds. Of course this is just a small sample of the actual number of birds around, but it gives an idea of what we might see. View Bessemer’s bird counts here: http://gbbc.birdsource.org/gbbcApps/report?cmd=showReport&reportName=CitySummary&city=Bessemer&state=US-AL&year=2007

Another thing we have in Bessemer is a National Wildlife Refuge. Did you know? The Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge is just off Eastern Valley Road, and was created in 1980 and contains a pond known as Thomas Spring which is vital to the survival of the endangered Watercress Darter. The 23 acre refuge is managed by the Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge in Anniston. The web site is http://www.fws.gov/southeast/watercressdarter/index.html and here is the Watercress Darter.

The refuge is next to the McAdory house. There are no informational signs up yet, but there are improved paths for hiking and bird watching. Email me for directions.

By the way, the web site has not been updated and says the Refuge is managed by Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.

Now for bad. This building is one block from my house. It has been abandoned for years, and why the thunderstorms and strong winds don’t finish it off I don’t know. The building was pictured on the front of The Western Star months ago, to try to draw attention, but I guess the right people have not seen it. Maybe they will see this picture.

Can we not just all get on one side and blow real hard?

One more thing. In case you don’t know, the Galleria Mall now has online shopping for its stores. The site is http://www.riverchasegalleria.com/html/index12.asp, and from there you can type in a product, for instance “Clark shoes”, and find where they are sold, and in some cases what styles are available and can reserve them. Type in “Weather Radio” (which we all should have) and several options come up. Also is a listing of “Hot Stores” and information for “mall walkers” and various other things. Explore, shop, spend!

And this is the Ugly. I will close with a quote from The Western Star of March 7, 2007. In an editorial, owner Bob Tribble says, “And we as newspaper folks must protect the rights of those with whom we disagree as well as those whom we agree” (Jefferson Was Definitely A “Visionary”). If only the editor, Dale Jones, agreed.